What kind of nuclear charge can be experienced in the USA?


Since our beloved adversaries do not indulge in the innovations of their nuclear arsenal, we are satisfied with the products of the previous era - W-80. Photo: flickr.com Kelly Michals


More recently, the United States announced that they could soon abandon the moratorium on nuclear testing, announced back in 1992, and conduct new underground tests at the Nevada training ground. This statement raised concern on the fate of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. weaponswhich is already falling apart under the onslaught of new nuclear countries. However, besides this, a purely technical question arises: what exactly are the US going to experience?

Any nuclear tests have a political and technical side. The political side of the trials usually pursued the goal of demonstrating determination and demonstrating that a certain type of nuclear weapon was available and operational. The technical side of the tests was to verify the new design of nuclear munitions in order to make sure that the product really has the required characteristics and provides the necessary energy release. So, if the Americans were going to test, then we can deduce from here that they have something new.

New warheads


The modernization program for the American nuclear missile arsenal has already begun and, judging by the press reports (containing a certain amount of misinformation) has already gained momentum. This is, at least, a new type of missile - the winged Long Range Standoff Weapon (LRSO), as well as three types of warheads. Two of them, W-76-2 and W-80-4 are the product of modernization of existing types, for ballistic and cruise missiles, respectively, and W-93 is a new model designed to replace warheads of the type W-76-1 and W -88.

What kind of nuclear charge can be experienced in the USA?
W-88 on tests at Sandia National Laboratories in 2018

W-76-2 - a low-power warhead, its energy release, according to the Federation of American Scientists, is estimated at 5 ct. According to reports, it has already entered service, and the submarine USS Tenessee (SSBN-734) went to sea at the end of 2019 to patrol with one or two of the 20 missiles on board equipped with these warheads. According to the same federation, which may be a planned leak of information, the first such ammunition was manufactured in February 2019, and by the beginning of 2020 there were about 50 of them.

W-80-4 is an extension of the life and partial modernization of the W-80-1 warheads, which are equipped with AGM-86B air-launched cruise missiles. Now these missiles constitute the backbone of the American air-based nuclear arsenal. Their reserve is decent: 1715 missiles, for which 1750 warheads were made. True, the missiles are already running out of life, as well as their carriers B-52H. The new LRSO cruise missile is being created immediately for many carriers, in particular, for the B-2 and for the new B-21 bomber, and it should solve the main problems of updating this part of the US nuclear arsenal. Judging by the available data, it is planned to produce 500 W-80-4 warheads.

Little is known about W-93, although much has been written about it in early 2020. Most likely, it is intended to equip a Trident II (D-5) ballistic missile, which was once again tested in September 2019. In the late 2030s, this warhead will have to replace the warheads of the previous types. They should also develop the Mk-7 RV platform, which should have an increased ability to break through the enemy’s missile defense. But so far almost nothing is known about her, at least in the open press.

Submariners must also fight!


An interesting question: why did the Americans need to equip nuclear submarines - carriers of strategic nuclear weapons - with a missile, which was essentially equipped with tactical nuclear weapons? What is the point of such a replacement? American and not only American experts in the field of nuclear weapons talk about a new strategy for responding to a nuclear attack with tactical charges without delivering a full-fledged retaliatory or retaliatory nuclear strike. In any case, the National Nuclear Security Administration puts it this way. They say that Russians can threaten us with low-power nuclear strikes in the expectation that the Americans are afraid to respond, and we need means of response to this threat, comparable in scale, so that the exchange of tactical nuclear strikes does not develop into a large-scale massacre.

Judging by the experience of the blessed times of the Cold War, such discussions about the strategy served as a means of disguising real intentions to use nuclear weapons and to some extent the enemy’s misinformation.

However, in my opinion, the real goals of such a replacement for warheads are somewhat different. The fact is that while the US Air Force and the surface fleet were exhausted in the fight against all kinds of bearded men in the Middle East, bringing down cruise missiles and guided bombs on them, American submariners evaded this honorable duty. They ate a fair amount of state treasury, plowed the underwater expanses of the oceans, in essence, doing nothing useful for the current American military tasks. I think that the command of the underwater fleet The United States more than once came up with demands to embed, but the underwater admirals answered something like this: we don’t mind embedding, but you are sure that a 455-kiloton warhead strike on some bunker or other target in the same Syria is what the world’s is the community waiting for you? So, after all, you can inadvertently wipe the whole city off the face of the earth.

In addition, in a number of countries hostile to the United States, in the same Syria or Iran, quite decent anti-missile defense systems appeared, which seriously reduce the effectiveness of cruise missile attacks.

The appearance of a tactical warhead in the arsenal of the American submarine fleet is precisely the solution to this problem. Submarines can now, if necessary, deliver a sudden and almost irresistible blow to an important target in a regional conflict. 5 kt is not much, a nuclear explosion will be with a small radius of destruction, about 150-200 meters. This eliminates or makes it unlikely that unnecessary casualties could come under nuclear attack at the same time for military purposes, if powerful warheads are used. Such a tactical warhead is most suitable for hitting an airfield, command center, or the position of missile defense or ballistic missiles.


Textbook photograph showing the possibilities of a tactical nuclear explosion

In a regional conflict, such as, for example, the war with Iran, fifty tactical nuclear warheads are in a position to either break or weaken very much the missile defense system and AviationThat will ease the load on aviation and make its strikes much more effective. As for Russia and China, the radars they have available make it possible to determine the trajectory and find out that these missiles do not pose a threat to them even if there is no prior warning (a warning about this strike may well be).


Regional war with tactical nuclear strikes promises to be spectacular

Will the new generation of designers be able to "go crazy"?


Judging by the fact that the W-76-2 warhead was immediately put on missiles and loaded onto a boat, the American command has no doubts about its operability. What then can they experience?

I think that they need to test the new W-93 warhead, which can significantly differ from previous types in its design and electronics. This is where the problem arises, already noted by some experts. The old generation of designers and engineers, in whose ability to "clog" there was no doubt, has already virtually disappeared; the youngest employees working in the nuclear test era are already retired. The ammunition created by them, of course, will explode if you dust off the sacred tablets of the Cold War era and do as it is written there. But whether the current generation will be able to do something that can flop out is a big question. If not, then the problem arises that in 15-20 years the United States may be left without a working nuclear weapon at all and the consequences will be catastrophic. Some DPRK could threaten them with impunity.

Then, in the United States, a drift from powerful charges to low-power (tactical) charges is clearly observed, which should be equipped with high-precision maneuvering warheads of not only ballistic missiles, but also hypersonic missiles, as well as anti-missile defense systems. The more accurate and more intelligent a warhead, for example, capable of not only maneuvering, but also target selection on approach, and automatically adjust the detonation power depending on the location of the targets, the more compact the charge itself should be. For example, if the enemy’s ships are in a heap, it’s better to have a more powerful explosion, and if the order is dispersed, then you need to hit accurately, but weaker. Say, for a Chinese aircraft carrier, a direct hit of a 5 kt warhead means guaranteed drowning. For a warhead, the weight and size characteristics of which are very tightly limited, the placement of additional electronics and devices means a reduction in the size and weight of the nuclear charge itself. Therefore, the requirements for the design of such compact charges are increasing and the question arises about their performance.

Therefore, despite the reassuring assurances that nuclear tests are not planned and they are not needed, I think that they are still planned and in the foreseeable future are likely to take place.
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  1. NF68 5 June 2020 18: 19 New
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    The U.S. is currently undergoing “trials” of a warhead named Donald Trump. No one can predict the full results of these tests.
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  3. dzvero 5 June 2020 18: 33 New
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    If the states stop the moratorium, then probably a series of underground tests will follow in the world. For too long, the reliability of the operation of the charges, especially the newly created ones, was not checked. Modeling is good, the stand also provides enough information, but the final proof of performance is an explosion.
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  4. KVU-NSVD 5 June 2020 18: 35 New
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    5 kt is a bit, a nuclear explosion will be with a small radius of destruction, about 150-200 meters
    Was the author in the zeros wrong? 5 thousand. tons of TNT and a couple of hundred meters? I sincerely do not want the author to be in a couple of kilometers from 5 ct.
    1. Uncle Izya 5 June 2020 18: 58 New
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      And radiation is still worth it, the land will be unusable for 50 years
      1. Local from the Volga 6 June 2020 01: 13 New
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        why? in a week the infantry will run without problems!
      2. Egor53 6 June 2020 02: 33 New
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        Uncle Izya, do not scare people who are illiterate.
        Since 1946 sq. 1958, at the Bikini Atoll, 67 nuclear and thermonuclear explosions were carried out. Already in 1968, 10 years after the last explosion, the radioactive background did not exceed that which was before all these tests.
        After a nuclear explosion, the dose from the fallout in ONE month (30 days) after the explosion is reduced by 3000 times.
        Half a year after the explosion of a nuclear warhead with a TNT equivalent of 5 thousand tons, Uncle Izya will not be able to detect an increased level of radioactivity at the epicenter, even with the most sensitive device manufactured in Israel.
        1. Uncle Izya 6 June 2020 09: 53 New
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          Main article: Radioactive Infections


          Crater from the explosion of a 104-kiloton charge. Soil emissions are also a source of contamination.
          Radioactive contamination is the result of the loss of a significant amount of radioactive substances from a cloud raised into the air. The three main sources of radioactive substances in the explosion zone are nuclear fission products, an unreacted part of the nuclear charge, and radioactive isotopes formed in the soil and other materials under the influence of neutrons (induced radioactivity).
          Settling to the earth’s surface in the direction of the cloud’s movement, the products of the explosion create a radioactive site called a radioactive trail. The infection density in the region of the explosion and in the wake of the movement of the radioactive cloud decreases with distance from the center of the explosion. The shape of the trail can be very diverse depending on environmental conditions, such as wind speed and direction.
          The radioactive explosion products emit three types of radiation: alpha, beta and gamma. The time of their impact on the environment is very long. Due to the natural process of radioactive decay, the radiation intensity decreases, this happens especially sharply in the first hours after the explosion.
          Damage to humans and animals by exposure to radiation can be caused by external and internal exposure. Severe cases can be accompanied by radiation sickness and death.
          I’m from Belarus and anyone can put a nickname, in case of a nuclear explosion there are not decayed plutonium, uranium
    2. AK1972 6 June 2020 06: 54 New
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      Also surprised. When we destroyed the remains of TNT after cleansing the landfill, we blew up 30 kg, so being 300 meters from the epicenter for half a day I went deaf.
  5. Simon 5 June 2020 18: 36 New
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    Say, for a Chinese aircraft carrier, a direct hit of a 5 kt warhead means guaranteed drowning.

    And what, the Americans think that China will not answer, to the sinking of the Chinese aircraft carrier! Adequately, the Chinese can shy around the US state with their full nuclear potential. After which, will North America exist at all.
    1. Cyril G ... 5 June 2020 21: 01 New
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      Destroyed Chinese or American AUGs will not be considered at all as an occasion for the application of strategic nuclear forces. And for the people, they will come up with a story about the Atlantic car, the Malay meteorite, the Hawaiian asteroid (underline shorter), and the people of course do it. By the way, Hollywood has already shown something like that, and since Hollywood has a tendency to make trouble for its beloved ones ... We’re waiting.
    2. Egor53 6 June 2020 02: 38 New
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      Dear Simon.
      North America, as a continent, will exist. But the United States, as a country, even without any nuclear strikes, is unlikely to last until 2026.
  6. Sergey39 5 June 2020 18: 41 New
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    Are low-power warheads being prepared for Kim Jong-un?
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  8. Operator 5 June 2020 18: 52 New
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    Low-power nuclear charges are needed only for local wars with slippers.

    The weight of the American thermonuclear charge W-76 is that in the standard (power 100 kt), that in the tactical version (5 kt) it will be in the range of 100-120 kg. Therefore, there is no question of any increase in the flight range of launch vehicles.

    In general, on the basis of the same modern design of a thermonuclear charge, it is technically possible to obtain four of its variants:
    - single-stage nuclear, consisting of a low-power plutonium initiator;
    - single-stage nuclear with tritium amplification;
    - two-stage thermonuclear with a stage of lithium deuteride;
    - a three-stage thermonuclear with a step (shell) of uranium-238.

    For example: the Soviet three-stage thermonuclear charge TK-66-05 weighing 140 kg power varies from 5 to 250 ct.

    TK-66-05 can be installed on almost all types of missiles: from rockets of MLRS and anti-aircraft missiles to cruise and ballistic. The question is different - why reduce its power even if it is used in the composition of the ammunition MLRS?
    1. Normal ok 5 June 2020 22: 52 New
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      Quote: Operator
      Low-power nuclear charges are needed only for local wars with slippers.

      The weight of the American thermonuclear charge W-76 is that in the standard (power 100 kt), that in the tactical version (5 kt) it will be in the range of 100-120 kg. Therefore, there is no question of any increase in the flight range of launch vehicles.

      In general, on the basis of the same modern design of a thermonuclear charge, it is technically possible to obtain four of its variants:
      - single-stage nuclear, consisting of a low-power plutonium initiator;
      - single-stage nuclear with tritium amplification;
      - two-stage thermonuclear with a stage of lithium deuteride;
      - a three-stage thermonuclear with a step (shell) of uranium-238.

      For example: the Soviet three-stage thermonuclear charge TK-66-05 weighing 140 kg power varies from 5 to 250 ct.

      TK-66-05 can be installed on almost all types of missiles: from rockets of MLRS and anti-aircraft missiles to cruise and ballistic. The question is different - why reduce its power even if it is used in the composition of the ammunition MLRS?

      When he served (back in the USSR) in the Odessa military district there were shells with special warheads for "geocintes", up to 2 kilotons. We joked then (the army loves black humor) that after a shot you need to lie in a trench and get used to the ground ((
      1. Operator 5 June 2020 23: 59 New
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        The article and my comment dealt exclusively with warheads of missiles with multistage thermonuclear charges of variable power from 5 to 250 ct.

        And so, the USSR / RF and the USA had / have artillery shells of caliber 152/155 mm with single-stage nuclear charges of constant power at the level of 5 ct.
  9. Avior 5 June 2020 19: 11 New
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    The author’s idea that the Americans were going to strike ballistic nuclear missiles of submarines at any bearded man so does not stand up to criticism that even seriously discussing it is ridiculous.
    They have worthy opportunities against bearded men and without it.
    And there is no need to refuse for this a limited number of strategic charges
  10. knn54 5 June 2020 19: 50 New
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    The Russian Foreign Ministry warned: "Any attack using an American SLBM, regardless of the characteristics of its equipment, will be perceived as an attack using nuclear weapons." And they threatened: "Those who want to speculate on the" flexibility "of the American nuclear potential should understand that, according to the Russian Military Doctrine, such actions will be considered the basis for the reciprocal use of nuclear weapons by Russia."
    1. ruivit1988 Yesterday, 05: 53 New
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      Given what Russia said and did. In the case of a nuclear strike on the "bearded men", a flexible or direct strike is not important. In general, he will answer with a terribly fierce concern and no more.
  11. Undecim 5 June 2020 19: 51 New
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    What kind of nuclear charge can be experienced in the USA?
    The one whose testing, according to American experts, is necessary, i.e. any of those available.
    The rest is verbiage in the style of Verkhoturov.
  12. Knell wardenheart 6 June 2020 00: 22 New
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    Layered missile defense systems are getting ready to punch near densely populated borders .. nobody will spend such things on camel collector poopers ..
    And which missile defense system is located near such important borders, think for yourself.
  13. Pavel57 6 June 2020 00: 28 New
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    If democrats come to power, then nuclear weapons can actually be used.
    1. iouris 6 June 2020 01: 01 New
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      If they come to power in which country? Everywhere power is divided into these two groups.
  14. iouris 6 June 2020 01: 00 New
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    Question to analysts: How many goals do you need to hit on the territory of the Russian Federation, so that finally everything gets up, seven, ten, maybe three?
  15. Edvid 6 June 2020 02: 25 New
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    Quote: KVU-NSVD
    5 kt is a bit, a nuclear explosion will be with a small radius of destruction, about 150-200 meters
    Was the author in the zeros wrong? 5 thousand. tons of TNT and a couple of hundred meters? I sincerely do not want the author to be in a couple of kilometers from 5 ct.

    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
    In World War II, the USSR dropped 5 kt bombs, the British even 10 kt, and nothing ...
    1. voyaka uh 6 June 2020 07: 13 New
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      Not 5 kt (thousand tons), but 5 tons (tons).
      1. Uncle Izya 6 June 2020 09: 49 New
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        Go to search
        Megatonna (abbreviated as Mt), depending on the context, may mean:
        A unit of mass equal to 106 tons or 109 kg.
        A unit of energy equal to 4,184 × 1015 J. It is defined as the amount of energy released during the detonation of 1 million tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT). See TNT equivalent
        and here kil means 5 thousand tons
        1. Motorist 7 June 2020 18: 55 New
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          Megatonna (abbreviated as Mt) ... may mean:
          A unit of mass equal to 106 tons or 109 kg.

          You wanted to say 10 in the sixth or ninth degree, I suppose. I thought for two minutes; "Speak more clearly", and then the good forum users will instruct the minuses.
          1. Uncle Izya 7 June 2020 20: 33 New
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            Wiki to help you
            1. Motorist 7 June 2020 20: 41 New
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              And here is Vicki ?! I just had enough education for this. If you copy from there, you should re-read it.
              1. Uncle Izya 8 June 2020 20: 07 New
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                Christmas tree sticks are you kidding me?
                1. Motorist 8 June 2020 20: 55 New
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                  If you [instead of putting me minuses] re-read your comment with the "eyes" of another forum member, then you will understand that I am not kidding:
                  Megaton ... may mean: A unit of mass equal to 106 tons or 109 kg.

                  All the best. hi
  16. Peter Tverdokhlebov 6 June 2020 06: 31 New
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    For example, if the enemy’s ships are in a heap, it’s better to have a more powerful explosion, and if the order is dispersed, then you need to hit accurately, but weaker

    Could it be the other way around?
  17. Sergey985 6 June 2020 07: 37 New
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    Any conflict in BV unleashed by the United States is needed to maintain instability in this region. The victory of the US Army is never even hypothetically considered (unless for a simple layman). Therefore, the use of nuclear weapons is meaningless, it will not give a headache to the USA itself. Moreover, the main opponent of the use of nuclear weapons in the BV will be the closest ally of the Americans - Israel. The reason why the power of charges decreases in another. The author partially raised this problem.
    1. iouris 6 June 2020 16: 02 New
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      The reason is the "permanent US national interests", a change in strategy and tactics. “The world community” will swallow the news that such ammunition has been used in Iran or that there will be a permitted protest demonstration of those who disagree with Trump (or Biden, doesn’t matter) the “American patriots” near the White House?
  18. CTABEP 6 June 2020 09: 54 New
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    The sacred tablets of the Cold War are certainly strong :)!
  19. Pavel57 6 June 2020 11: 03 New
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    Quote: iouris
    If they come to power in which country? Everywhere power is divided into these two groups.

    Will come in the States. And the rest will catch up.
  20. Hydrogen 6 June 2020 22: 56 New
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    I don’t like all this, they are obviously preparing for something. Our doctrine is generally flawed, it is worth changing it, and these new amendments do not make the situation better.
  21. wehr 7 June 2020 01: 22 New
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    Something the commentators went sort of scared. Boring !!
    Where is the joy of genuine militarists before the upcoming hand-to-hand fight under the mushroom, in a child of a nuclear conflagration for radioactive ruins? laughing
  22. U-58 7 June 2020 08: 17 New
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    The issue is multi-valued.
    Firstly, it is very tempting to misinform the enemy (that is, us) in terms of equipping submarines.
    Like, the Russians will consider the equipment tactical, and we "out of the blue" will replace half of the warheads with strategic ones.
    Until the Russian spies figure out what’s what, the thing will be done.
    Secondly, real tests of "working capacity", which is relevant for all parties.
    Indeed, for three decades of computer design, anyone has doubts, but will it smell?
    So it is quite possible to escalate the field test.
    It is also possible to declare that they say, not forever, but, say, for 5-7 years, followed by a refusal for the next period.
  23. 257950 8 June 2020 11: 09 New
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    [Quote]The old generation of designers and engineers, in whose ability to "clog" there was no doubt, has already virtually disappeared; the youngest employees working in the nuclear test era are already retired.[quote] Interestingly, and our specialists after so many years, Th megut?
  24. Nec7 9 June 2020 17: 46 New
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    From one kT radius of destruction kilometer
    1. wehr 9 June 2020 19: 45 New
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      In my assessments, I always take a zone of severe destruction and guaranteed fatal shock injuries. That is, the area in which the target will be accurately destroyed; result independent of various input factors.
      And in this table what? At least 50% of possible moderate lesions ...
  25. Pavel73 11 June 2020 13: 21 New
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    Low-power JBF is dangerous because the temptation to use it is too great.
    1. wehr 11 June 2020 19: 00 New
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      It is good that it can be applied laughing
  26. alien308 14 June 2020 23: 44 New
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    800 m in an easy shelter from 100 ct. I do not agree!